Tag Archives: social security

The grandfather clause (repost) — Crooked Timber

13 Aug

I saw a reference to (US Representative) Paul Ryan’s plan to kill Social Security and Medicare, but only for people currently under 55 (he doesn’t say “kill” of course, but if it was going to make things better he wouldn’t need to exempt everyone likely to care directly about the issue) and it reminded me to post this.

A policy like this has what economists like to call a time-inconsistency problem. To get the policy approved, Ryan needs the votes of people currently over 55 (hence the exemption) and in the current US situation, any Republican majority has to rely heavily on older voters. Say the plan passes. Sooner or later, the combination of demographics and the electoral pendulum means that the Repubs will be out, and the new primarily majority will face three choices (a) Repeal the whole thing if they can do so before it comes into force (b) Keep on paying high taxes to fund benefits they will never receive for the benefit of the selfish old so-and-so’s who voted to cut the rope once they had reached the top; or© extend the same cuts to the (as of 2011) over 55’s, and claw back some money for themselves.

If I were an over-55 Republican, I don’t think I would want to count on (b)

Discussion follows at the link below.

via The grandfather clause (repost) — Crooked Timber.

Gambling with economic security – Michael Lind – Salon.com

10 Apr

Any rational person would prefer the security of government-funded retirement and unemployment insurance to the insecurity of private retirement accounts and unemployment accounts. The truth is that Social Security and government unemployment insurance are far better deals than the universal capitalist alternatives.

In addition to being a bad deal for ordinary people, the push to increase stock market participation by the majority of Americans has had bad effects on the economy as a whole. At the root of the volatility of the global economy in the decades leading up to the crash of 2008 was an excess of global savings and too little wage-enabled consumption by ordinary people in developed and developing nations alike. This problem had many causes, including the strategy of Asian mercantilist countries of suppressing the incomes of their workers and the diversion of the gains from economic growth in the U.S. into rewards for shareholders and CEOs rather than higher wages for workers.

via Gambling with economic security – Michael Lind – Salon.com.

Nine Ideas Up for Grabs

20 Oct

Economist Robert Reich (Secretary of Labor under Clinton) has nine suggestions for specific reforms (from Salon magazine).

One, Anger (cf Occupy America and Change History):

What’s needed isn’t just big ideas. It’s people fulminating for them – making enough of a ruckus that the ideas can’t be ignored. They become part of the debate because the public demands it.

Two, jobs:

The nation needs a real jobs plan, one of sufficient size and scope to do the job – including a WPA and a Civilian Conservation Corps, to put the millions of long-term unemployed and young unemployed to work rebuilding America.

Three, to address long-term debt, raise money by:

What about halving the military budget …? It doubled after 9/11, and military contractors are intent on keeping it in the stratosphere. . . .

And what about really raising taxes on the rich to finance what the nation should be doing to create a world-class workforce with world-class wages? . . . Incomes of more than $5 million should be subject to a 70 percent rate. (The top marginal rate was never below 70 percent between 1940 and 1980.) And these rates should apply to all income regardless of source, including capital gains. . . .

And a tax on financial transactions. Even a tiny one of one-half of one percent would generate $200 billion a year. That’s enough to make a major contribution toward early childhood education for every American toddler. Continue reading